Friday, 29 July 2011

The day Sean bit back

Often it happens that when you first get on something you do far better than you do on subsequent goes. This seems to extend to sessions as well. First day on Sean's with Ru I felt like it was gonna go down the next time I was there. The next time was last night, and I went down rather than it.

In fairness, it felt hot, airless and those holds are sharp. The problem isn't just skin when its like that - its lethargy (Copyright Davies conditions consulting, 2011). I didnt manage to do the first move again. I think it might be impossible with a taped split. Got pushed through it and did the next couple of moves - not as easy as I hoped. Did the jump to the pod a few times, exited it but never held the cut loose. Tried the campus at the end - its harder than it should be.

Thrash myself to within an inch of skin tolerance and go home defeated. This is certainly going to be rather more of a battle than i thought, although - as I write that I think - dont be so negative - you've got a big pad split which needed tape, and it was hot and sweaty.

I will finish by condemning the new guidebook for making the damn place popular. Rarely is the day when there's noone there anymore, and I don't like it! Gone are my quiet solitary afternoons pottering around the crimps, now its all wrestling dreadlocked puy jugglers, stepping over their unicycles to get to the problems. Bobbins. So nice one guidebook team, for encouraging the populous to go to places I like. Cheers.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

East Coast Tramlines

There was almost no chance it'd be dry. Ed had driven past on his way home on Friday night, and texted that it looked dank. Rupert and I agreed that we should at least look, as has been shown time and time again, Peak Slimestone can confound expectations - even the most practiced soothsayer can be wrong. The problem with Sean's roof is that there's not much above it to buffer incoming wetness, and the holds are entirely cracks and lines of weakess, which funnel aforementioned wetness earthwards. Whatever we found, I was excited. I was going to get to go on it on a rope and try more than the first move for the first time. Was Ned right, was the first move the hardest one? 

The first move is hard. Pretty blummin' hard. There are then a flurry of ok moves, but - read : relatively ok - i.e. still not easy. And mildly worrying - although that might have been a function of it being a bit soapy. Then there's a quite hard jump to the pod, which is a jug. Getting out of the pod is the final challenge, as killing the scorpion swing is v.hard. Seriously - doing this without a rope? its bordering on stupid! there's bolts there - use em! not doing means a wild swing into the path of traffic - its just not worth it! what you gonna do? wait in the pod until there's not a lorry driving past then quickly scuttle to the jug? mental. Do it on a rope. Oh, and its sharp. We do ok, both do all the moves, both get quite psyched to go back. That was Saturday.

All week an increasing tumult of internet chatter about the east coast has been on my radar. The mega swell was coming, and in the middle of summer too. 'The biggest waves in a year' on the east, etc etc. It would have taken an inert man to resist getting the littlest bit excited about it, at least on paper. And the reason I say that is because everyone looks at Magic Seaguess and they look at swell and period. Then they get excited and rush off to the coast. What they seem to fail to notice is the wind. And the words of the shops and locals, all of whom were saying - 'yes, there will be waves, but seek shelter, cos there's also mega wind'.

The way of the world is often for the wind to be lesser in the early morning, and with that in mind I picked Zen Surf Master up at 0555. We made it to Scarborough in an hour and a half, and went straight to south bay. The sight that confronted us was that of a disorganised, gigantic, heaving steel grey sea. It looked like a good place for sea monsters and ship wrecks rather than going for a swim with a lump of plastic. It seemed the forecast was right. Up at the town end, in the lee of the harbour wall there was some semblance of order. Already a few rubber clad bodies could be seen contemplating their predicament. Further out it looked epic, dangerous even. A feverish mood ran through the car park as folk struggled into wetsuits and scuttled about waxing boards. It was my first day of proper riding on the new stick and I was nervous whether I had made a bad decision only bringing it.

We paddled around the side and out the back. Size between 4 and 5ft on the sets, some waves peeling in either direction, some closing out, you just had to pick your wave and take your chances. I looked at my watch - 0802. As I watched, the wave rolling towards me looked good, but I could see something more interesting just behind it which looked interesting - I would wait. And there it was, the first wave of the day, its face clear and unmottled, pitching up before me. I spun around and began paddling, looking back it had almost caught up, i felt the board pitch up and my speed increase, then with the zing of someone fresh out of the car POP! up I went, in the perfect place, at the top of the wave and angled away from the peak, I felt good, my board in the right place, my weight even and SLASH! down I went, skudding across the unbroken wave face, the whitewater just behind me and for a fleeting moment I was actually doing it! YYFY!

I caught a couple of other good rides, and I learnt to duck dive properly. I thought I was doing this before, but I wasn't. Its quite tiring, but very useful. Surfing is quite tiring! Out of the water just after 10, and back in the car to Sheff.

She wanted to go to tramlines, and whilst ZSM said he was going to go to bed I thought i felt ok, and that I was up for it. We got back, she and i had lunch, then walked down to endcliffe park. Nice vibe in there, nice and chilled, lay in the sun etc etc. This was ok I thought, i can cope with this - as by now I had started feeling a bit wierd. My problem was compounded by my not having slept well due to excitement - which, potentially, is the next issue I have to contend with in respect to surfing. Anyway, we ended up walking into town and meeting up with friends in the melee which was Sheffield. What an awesome event! Totally free, totally random bands but amazing atmosphere in town. However, I wasnt in the right headspace, and I made us leave by about 1900. She wasnt impressed. Very very tired. Sorry!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Wee Eddie McTavish

Ever since I started learning to surf I have wanted to go with Edlog. Apparently he knows how to stand on floating hunk of fibreglass, and I wanted to leech his skillZ. However, at every turn my plans were foiled, and I only ever saw evidence of his proficiency with Fybogel.

Finally it happened. After 13 months our wave riding paths crossed and I got to paddle out with the man with the vice like grip. Man, he was rubbish! he couldn't even sit on his board in the line up! TEEE HEEE! This of course, is not true. Like a seal Ed cut through the waves to the calmer water out back whilst I splashed around like a flailing sea bass the waves crashing on my head, threatening to sink me and my fibreglass barge. Soon I was beside him, contemplatatively surveying the scene, and assessing waves for rideability.

The first problem I have with surfing is that I get too excited. I paddle out, sit there for a bit, see a half decent wave, and because I want a ride I go for it, when neither it or I are ready. Which ultimately is a great way to burn calories, but not such a great strategy to threatening Kelly Slater (did you know he was both in Baywatch and went out with Pammy for a bit? fascinating). Its easier for me to chill my boots with someone else there, and we had quite a good short session.

It was interesting to see how conditions changed with the tide. We were there on the falling tide (I think) and the shape of the wave was very different from when I went with Zen surf master a couple of weeks ago - less dumpy and less closing out. It seemed that as it started to change that it became more dumpy again? so perhaps Cayton on the push is like that?

I got on quite well, getting a couple of good clean water rides, but there were also lo-lights, however - these were funny. At one point I was paddling and nearing being out the back again, when I became aware that both Edlog and another gentleman were paddling for the wave I was at the bottom of, 4ft above me, pointy surfboards pointing straight towards my head and about to carve me into fish fodder with their fins. Thankfully they both aborted and I haven't been minced (sorry guys). The other amusing error was my seeing a wave, paddling for it, but it suddenly advancing its stage of progression and me being in the dump zone rather than on the slope. I did the yelp of a small child.

The other lesson of the day was that Saltburn is easier to get to than Cayton/Scarborough. Although geographically further, roads are better and it takes less time to get back from. Finally, before we move on from surfing - there's a mega swell about on the north east coast this weekend. However, sadly, its accompanied by mega wind too. South bay could be where its at.

Last week I made Ned come down Cheesedale for me to do Nemesis. Warmed up well, route looked dry, all the signs were good. First go I bolt to bolted, putting the clips in. Came down, rest etc, all looking good. First redpoint I rinsed past the hard bit. And I mean rinsed - it felt easy. I knew this was the go, I was going to do it! Got to the flipping jug that signals the end of the hard bit, tried to clip, fumbled it, droppped the rope - then MONO'd the draw in desperation! As the laughter went up from below I thought I was gonna have to pull on it, but some sort of wild dynamic quickdraw grabbing ensued and I lowered off. Few more attempts getting here, but basically had put all my beans into that go and none was as good. Pretty cool route Nemesis. Would love to get it done this summer.

Finally, on the way home Ned was kind enough to show me the numbers on Sean's roof. Man, what have I been doing? If I want to climb 8b+ this is where I should be! not questing up power endurance routes on jugs! crimping in a roof - thats where its at! I am actually quite enthused about getting back to this one. Anyone fancy it?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Skin management

A thorny issue. Skin management should be quite simple, but it seems very easy to get wrong, and when it has been mismanaged can set you back weeks,
or possibly longer. As you meet other climbers you will notice varying
levels of exellence regards managing skin condition, from the non existant
(andi_e and squiff) to the expert (jon fullwood). The basic rules are simple

1. Splits - sand them till smooth. Grit your teeth, deal with the pain
and get rid of the burr.
2. Dont stop sanding them after the first time - the regrown skin needs
to keep being sanded or else you get a thick hard area, possibly with a
further impurity which will split again.
3. Sand your fingers down after the shower when you are hot and wet.
4. Always have some sand paper in your chalk bag. Aluminium oxide paper
seems pretty good.
5. Stop climbing before you put a tip through. To stop now is to be able
to climb again in a couple of days, to hole a tip is to be out of action for
6. After sanding moisturise.
7. After climbing, inspect, sand, moisturise
8. If you go in the sea - moisturise.
9. Even if its nearly healed, climb with tape covering the split. You can
remove it for one redpoint, but this is a high risk strategy.
10. Always tape a clean finger.

Your skin type may change the number of days, and the amount of time and
quantity of moisturiser you will use but the principles are the same.

In summer I get splits at pad creases - from crimping when its hot and your
skin is soft. These deep fissures are easy to tape, but take ages to heal.
The reason for writing this today is that I got one a few weeks ago, managed
it just about better, but allowed a ripple at the corner to develop. Had
this been taken off before climbing then it wouldn't have split again.

Friday, 8 July 2011

County mini raid

There once was a time where through work I would frequently go to Edinburgh. And never during that time did it occur to me to drive. I think I come from an age where flying was considered exciting, and I liked it, so I would always do that. But perhaps I was missing a trick. On the way to Edinburgh is some great surfing potential, and some better climbing areas.

I left work on Wednesday at 1300. I drove north through the rain and standing water and arrived at a very bleak looking Beadnell Bay :

It looked rubbish. There were occasional sets which held promise, but really I would have been going in for the sake of it. Cos of the rain it looked like I was going to end up driving to the climbing wall in Edinburgh. Not happy. Decided to sack it and look at Bamburgh beach, and the first blip of excitement came when there were T4's in the car park, and people in wetsuits getting ready... I ran to the top of a dune and looked down to see big clean lines set out in front of me! Brilliant! I high tailed it back to the car and changed as fast as I could, almost as if any delay on my part would see these conditions dissipate.

When I got to the waters edge it looked to have gone off a bit, but there were lulls, and then there were sets. Dont be thinking pounding over head barrels, more like 2-3ft of clean organised waves - which is just what I needed. Caught a few rides, things were going well, but my feet were freezing and my board was slippy. Went ashore and scraped off some old wax and applied some new and got my boots. Back out for another hour - big difference! Positively stuck in place I had more control and i think one of the best sessions I have had.

Interestingly, as I bobbed around with seals in the sea, I could see that the incoming waves were forming tiny mini tubes. You couldnt have gotten in one, but you could stick your leg in or something. I remembered all that I had been told, about looking back over your shoulder as you paddle in to a wave to see where it was going, and began to both angle take off and slide along the face of the wave. So pleased!

Got out, went for some tea in the castle pub (bit log), and a final walk around the castle grounds :

Before driving the final hour and a quarter to Edinburgh. Checked in at hotel, went out for a beer. Next day, attended this meeting I was there for, managed to get away about 1500 and zoom back off to the County. This time I decided to climb, so I went to Kyloe.

As I arrived I couldnt believe the number of flies that swarmed around the car. It was so bad, I actually thought I must have parked on some carcass that they were feeding on, but it wasnt that, just that there were a lot of flies. I changed in the car, putting my coat and hood on and zipping it right up so as to prevent the little shits from getting me. Next I shot from the car and onto the path - no better, and - heavy rain started! back to the car, collect brolly. Wedge that in pads to prevent them and me getting soaked - works quite well actually. Stomp up to crag to find it totally dry, but then the sun comes out! it goes from a reasonable 16 degrees to 23, and the holds feel sharp and hurty. I get warmed up and have a go on Cubby's lip. Work out how to do it, but dont manage to redpoint. Ah well. Have a go on the yorkshireman, fail to step left foot onto nubbin, and everything feels desperate. Sack it off and go to look at waves again. There are none. Drive home.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Yorkshire wave

Dave lay back on his pad, staring up at the staminaband undercuts and disbelieving how much harder it felt than the last time he'd tried. The problem, he explained, was that last time was months ago and the intervening months had not been good ones in climbing terms.

We tried, we failed. Rich Ames turns up and shows us how to get to the end but still fail. In fact, I think he shows us this five or six times. Perhaps he will see this and comment to advise whether it went down after I left :

Then came the weekend, and with it crippling mega heat. I opted for a tactical weekend of abstinence. We had people for dinner on saturday night, and as they were leaving he mentioned that there was swell about on the east coast - was I up for it? Hell yeah! All too soon the alarm was going off and the monster and I were blearily bundled into the back of a car laden with surfboards.

I'd never been surfing on the north east coast of England before, and I had been wanting to go with someone else to get shown where to go and so on. As we caught sight of the sea my heart sank - it looked totally flat! My host and driver warned that you couldn't see from there anyway and to wait. We parked and looked from the headland there were waves! Good clean ones too! With a mounting feeling of excitement and perhaps a little trepidation we ran back to the car to get suited up.

I learnt that it looks smaller from the top of the cliffs. When we paddled out it was 5ft on some of the sets and I also learnt that Cayton is a very heavy wave. Which was another new experience for me. The waves seemed to go from unrideable to too steep to closed out in the space of a second and not very much distance. Bit frustrating really. Didn't get to make much of it on my new board as I'm not good enough to catch a wave and be straight into the turn, I need to catch it, get my bearings and then slowly attempt a turn, wheras to get the best out of this you needed to angle take off and get the rail hard in. Basically I couldn't react in time cos I'm still finding my feet. Fun though, and after a two hour session I'd certainly had a workout.

We drove back to Sheffield and went straight down to squiffhanger. Twitter is a marvellous thing. I managed to get up to speed in the car on the way back, so that by the time we got there in time for the finals we already knew nedlog hadn't qualified. Such a shame as it sounds very close.

The finals always lack something when there's noone you know in them, and by the time we left my old man legs were very tired as was I.